Emmanuel Macron, then on the election campaign, in 2017, made it his duty to establish contact with Angela Merkel during a visit to Berlin, like any good candidate of a French government party in search of credibility. This week, it is the head of state’s turn to reciprocate, with two of the three main contenders for the succession of the German Chancellor.
Monday, September 6, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, leading in voting intentions, was received the first, two days before Armin Laschet, the Christian Democratic candidate (CDU-CSU), expected Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, the Elysee is careful not to give its preference between two men, anxious to give pledges on their European project.
The interview between MM. Macron and Scholz lasted an hour. While French leaders have often been annoyed by the inertia of the government of Mr.me Merkel (CDU), of which Mr. Scholz has been the Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor since 2018, the latter promises a more proactive approach, in line with the weight of his country, while increasing the openings towards the French president.
“Germany is at the heart of the continent and is the most populous country, it cannot be content to stand back, commenting on the progress of the world. However, a more active role goes through cooperation with France ”, declared Mr. Scholz, who underlined his proximity to the former social democratic chancellor Helmut Schmidt (from 1974 to 1982), at the time very close to President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, to justify his attachment to cooperation between Paris and Berlin.
Defense, diplomacy and economy
A little later, in front of a few German-speaking journalists, Mr. Scholz took up the debate on “European sovereignty”, a concept dear to the French president. For him, it is about ensuring that Europe “Remains relevant” in a world soon to be populated by ten billion people. He took an example from the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the establishment within the Twenty-Seven of an unprecedented recovery plan “Thanks to Franco-German cooperation”, to show its voluntarism in other areas.
Defense and diplomacy, first of all. “We must move towards common defense systems, said the SPD candidate. This requires Franco-German cooperation ” that must be “A model for Europe”. After the Afghan debacle, which showed, according to him, the failure of state building, the Social Democrat seems anxious to extend Germany’s commitment alongside France in the Sahel, since there is a question of fighting terrorism.
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